Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War
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date= 30 March 1651 - 17 April 1986
place=Isles of Scilly
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territory=
result=Indecisive
combatant1=
combatant2=
commander1=
commander2=
strength1=
strength2=
casualties1= None
casualties2= None
The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War (1651–1986) was a war between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly (located off the southwest coast of the United Kingdom). It is said to have been extended by the lack of a peace treaty for 335 years without a single shot being fired, which would make it one of the world's longest wars and the war with the fewest casualties. Despite the uncertain validity of the declaration of war, peace was finally declared in 1986.

The war

Origins

The origins of the war can be found in the Second English Civil War, fought between the Royalists and Parliamentarians from 1642 to 1652. Oliver Cromwell had fought the Royalists to the edges of the Kingdom of England. In the West of England this meant that Cornwall was the last Royalist stronghold. In 1648, Cromwell pushed on until mainland Cornwall was in the hands of the Parliamentarians.

The Royalists' major asset was the Navy, which had declared itself for the Prince of Wales. The Royalist Navy was forced to retreat to the Isles of Scilly, which lie off the Cornish coast and were under the ownership of Royalist Sir John Grenville.

Dutch Navy alliance

The navy of the United Provinces of the Netherlands was allied with the Parliamentarians. The Netherlands had been assisted by the English under a number of rulers in the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), starting with Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Treaty of Münster (30 January 1648) had confirmed Dutch independence from Spain. The Netherlands sought to maintain their alliance with England and had chosen to ally with what seemed would be the victorious side in the Civil War.

The Dutch Navy was suffering heavy losses from the Royalist fleet based in Scilly. On 30 March 1651, Admiral Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp arrived in Scilly to demand reparation from the Royalist fleet for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them.

According to Whitelocke's Memorials (cited in Bowley, 2001), a letter of 17 April 1651 explains: "Tromp came to Pendennis and related that he had been to Scilly to demand reparation for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them; and receiving no satisfactory answer, he had, according to his Commission, declared war on them."

As most of England was now in Parliamentarian hands, war was declared specifically upon the Isles of Scilly.

Royalist surrender

In June 1651, soon after the declaration of war, the Parliamentarian forces under Admiral Robert Blake forced the Royalist fleet to surrender. The Netherlands fleet, no longer under threat, left without firing a shot. Due to the obscurity of one nation's declaration of war against a small part of another, the Dutch forgot to officially declare peace.

Peace treaty

In 1985, Roy Duncan, historian and Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council, wrote to the Dutch Embassy in London to dispose of the "myth" that the islands were still at war. Embassy staff found the myth to be accurate and Duncan invited Ambassador Jonkheer Rein Huydecoper to visit the islands and sign a peace treaty. Peace was declared on 17 April 1986, 335 years after the war began. The Dutch delegate to the signing of the peace treaty joked that it must have been harrowing to the Scillonians to know that the Dutch could have attacked them at any time.

Authenticity

Bowley (2001) argues that the letter in Whitelock's Memorials is the probable origin of the "declaring war"

See also

* List of wars extended by diplomatic irregularity
* Arauco War (1536–1881), another example of a very long war
* Anglo–Zanzibar War, generally considered the world's shortest war

References

* "Scilly peace". "The Times", 19 April, 1986.
* Bowley, RL (2001). "Scilly At War", pp. 37, 38 & 65. Isles of Scilly, UK: Bowley Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-900184-34-5.

External links

* [http://scillynews.severecci.net/?p=11138 ScillyNews article]


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